Says Joe Maddon: “The volunteers are the unsung heroes. Without them, none of our efforts occur.” Every month, the Respect 90 Foundation will salute a distinguished volunteer from the communities of Tampa, FL, Chicago, IL, Mesa, AZ, Southern California, or Joe’s Hometown of Hazleton, PA. Respect 90 will present a $1,000 grant to that volunteer’s charity. Should you have someone who is deserving, please let us know.
Andee Milner | United Charities Inc / United Children’s Home
Andee Milner wasn’t ready to retire but her husband, Dan, a fellow math teacher at Randolph High School was. So, they moved from Morris County, New Jersey to Eagle Rock, Pennsylvania, about seven miles outside of Joe Maddon’s hometown of Hazleton, PA. It was closer to family and for Dan, it was closer to golf.
With Andee, the move has been more about proving the axiom “you can take the teacher out of the school, but you can’t take the school out of the teacher.”
“I always loved what I was doing,” she admits, ”and the welfare of kids has always been high on my priority list. I was hoping to find something that fills that passion and I think I was just lucky to find what I did.”
What she found 15 years or so ago was United Charities/United Children’s Home, a non-profit organization giving male individuals between the ages of six and 18 a place to call home. Although the residency may be temporary, the love a child receives while living there lasts a lifetime. The boys at United Charities of Hazleton/United Children’s Home come from counties throughout the state. They are often removed from their homes due to domestic abuse or neglect. Some come to the home from foster care or in some cases, the hospital.
“They treat these boys like family and these are kids with two and three strikes against them,” says the Western Pennsylvania native with two children and five grandchildren of her own. “When you’re there it feels like a family and it continues after they leave. That was the most important thing to me.”
“For well over a decade,” says United Charities Director Jill Zapotocky, “Andee has never come to our home empty-handed. She is always willing to get others to help our home and help others in the community. She is selfless and goes above and beyond for the children. The work being done by Andee and others is so important as these poor children have been stigmatized enough and we truly want them to get back a much better part of their lives that they missed living in the poverty, violence, and abuse they have endured prior to coming to the Children’s Home.”
A firm believer in volunteerism for much of her adult life, Andee has organized groups that have provided Christmas trees, and ornaments and gifts to the children. She has held numerous fundraising events including Casino Nights, Halloween dances, flea markets and quilt raffles to benefit United Charities as well as others in need in the Hazleton area.
Sometimes it means even managing something akin to a small moving company “Often times when someone is moving and they have furniture or household goods they can’t use that are available, we do our best to get it over to the kids,” adds Andee. “I feel like anything we can do to make their life better is great.”
United Charities has been at it a long enough to have had Joe Maddon serve as a volunteer during the offseason before he began his professional baseball career in 1980. Maddon called it a character-building, unforgettable life lesson. “They save lives,” says the three-time manager of the year.
Rick Vaughn | Executive Director, Respect 90 Foundation